Wednesday November 18, 2009
Singer-utilitarian style argument for a very strong duty to contribute to famine relief.
-Should approach the level of marginal utility-our giving a dollar would do the same
amount of harm to us as it does benefit to the one who receives the dollar (strong
-the difference a unit of money or food makes to your happiness gets less the more you
already have, if you are starving a dollar will have a big difference to your happiness
(diminishing marginal utility of money). The more money you have, the less you need.
-do we have as strong a duty to give as Singer argues?
Non-moral assumptions of his argument-diminishing marginal utility don’t always hold,
people in Canada are so used to some things. Need to keep Developed countries
strong to help out developing countries. His argument still has a pretty strong
Arthur-challenges Singer’s moral assumptions
Singer has a strong and a weak principle. In Arthur’s article
Greater Moral Evil Rule-if we can prevent one bad thing without producing some worse
thing of comparable importance then we ought to do it.
Arthur thinks Greater Moral Evil Rule it is false if it is taken as an absolute moral
principle, or the only moral principle. It is not false if it is taken as a principle of prima
facie duty, or among other moral principle.
Arthur-pluralist, more in the style of Ross. There are a number of principles that must be
weighed against each other. There are other moral principles that can sometimes
outweigh the greater moral evil rule. It is not a duty proper rule.
710-our commonly shared morality encourages us to help others in need.
Considerations that weigh against the greater moral evil rule can sometimes make it not
necessary to give as much.
1)Desert 709-710-industrious farmed produces a surplus of food, while a lazy neighbor
doesn’t have enough and will suffer. More than one factor to weigh, one farmer
deserves the food, earned it through hard work. Singer would say that the farmer with
the food, should give food to the other farmer, because it would give him more happiness according to the principle of marginal utility. Arthur thinks you don’t have a
duty to share with your lazy neighbor. Have to apply this to the case of famine relief.
Ross thought that desert depended on moral virtue. The people in Bangladesh would
have to be less virtuous then us. There is no reason to think that we are more deserving
than the people starving in Bangladesh, there is no reason to think we are more virtuous
then they are.
Arthur’s view of what makes you deserving is hard work and laziness makes you
undeserving. This can’t be applied to us in Canada vs. People in Bangladesh either. It is
not generally true that people in Canada have worked harder than in Bangladesh, they
might have worked harder trying to grow food in famine conditions. What counts against
our duty to famine relief is that we are more deserving, but since is basis is hard work,
there is no reason that we think we work harder than them.
*arguments about desert may be a reason not to maximize happiness, may apply well
to the industrious farmer example, but hard to see how it applies to the famine condition